Mpumalanga health MEC Fish Mahlalela says if the fight against HIV-Aids is to be won, there is a need to treat the pandemic as a normal chronic disease.
Speaking at the launch of the government's HIV testing week campaign yesterday Mahlalela said: "There is a need to educate people to treat HIV and Aids as a normal chronic disease if our efforts to mobilise many people to test and know their status is to succeed.
"The phobia and stigma associated with HIV has the potential to derail the success of the collective war on HIV and Aids.
"We therefore have to double our efforts and mobilise as many of our people as possible, especially men, to test and know their status.
"Doing so affords them the opportunity to make informed choices about their lives."
Throughout this week the department will encourage people in the province to test and know their status.
This is part of a comprehensive strategy in the fight against HIV and Aids and a build-up to World Aids Day on December 1.
Mahlalela said the campaign is aimed more at men because research showed there was low testing levels among them.
He said there was also an increasing tendency for men to test themselves through impregnating their partners in the hope that once the woman has been tested during pregnancy it will confirm their status.
"We aim to reach at least 2600 men through the 29 participating clinics in the province, some of which we intend to use as pioneers of the voluntary counselling and testing campaign," he said.
The campaign will culminate in a provincial event at the Ermelo Clinic on Friday.
"I call on all men in the province to support this initiative, to visit all our health facilities in numbers and to undergo voluntary counselling and testing since this constitutes the cornerstone of our prevention strategy," he said.
"Once people know their status they are in a better position to prevent re-infection and can get assistance."